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Effects of privacy policy visualization on users’ information privacy awareness level : The case of Instagram

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The purpose of this paper is to propose visualization techniques as a new representation for privacy policies instead of traditional textual representation and to examine empirically their effects on users’ information privacy awareness level.


The authors selected as a case the privacy policy of Instagram and conducted two empirical investigations, each one with three interventions and each representing a different version of the Instagram privacy policy to users. Through a pre- and a post-questionnaire, the authors examined the effects that each representation technique had on the users’ privacy awareness level.


The paper finds that visualized privacy policies lead to higher privacy awareness levels than conventional textual ones, especially when icons are included.

Research limitations/implications

The authors implemented two new representation techniques offering beneficial guidelines for designing more attractive privacy policy representations. However, the samples are rather limited for generalization to the wide population; nonetheless, they are significant to demonstrate the effect of visualized techniques. The findings might also be subject to bias (e.g. brand bias), although the authors took necessary methodological actions to prevent bias.

Practical implications

The results and the methodology of the paper could guide practitioners for the representation of a privacy policy, given that the authors provide systematic and concrete steps.


This paper examines the value of privacy policy visualization as a new approach for enabling user privacy awareness, as well as implements two visualization techniques for a given privacy policy. The paper and its findings should be useful for researchers, as well as for practitioners.
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Keywords: Behaviour change; Empirical study; Information visualization; Privacy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Informatics, Ionio Panepistemio, Corfu, Greece

Publication date: August 23, 2019

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